How to find a job you love: Why looking for a new job is sabotaging your search for a more fulfilling career
Our first instinct when we’re unhappy at work is to look at online listings to see what’s ‘out there’. I’ve done it myself – old habits die hard! I suspect you’ve done it too. But what you really need to know is how to find a job you love - not what jobs are available the day you’re looking. In fact, looking at job listings is one of the worst ways to find the career of your dreams.
In this article, I’ll be explaining just why looking at job listings is actually taking you in completely the wrong direction.
There are a few reasons, but I want to focus on just two.
1. You’re seeking a job – not a fulfilling working life
It’s natural to start by looking for what you know you can do now, rather than thinking about what you actually want from your career. But think about this for a moment: if you are already doing it and are unhappy at work, why would going into another job you can already do make you fulfilled?
WHY you work, what drives you and what will fulfill you – these are the questions that open up a much deeper exploration.
If you’re looking for fulfillment in your career, quite a few things have to line up:
+ Your values
+ Your purpose
+ Using your strengths
+ Doing work you love
When you have clarity about these – and about what you want your working life to look like (which is probably already expressed in your highest values), you’ll be able to explore future career options from the perspective of fulfillment rather than merely coasting along.
This is why these four elements are at the heart of my Quickstep Career Change Programme and also provide the solid ground from which to explore a whole range of career problems that my Career Clarity Call clients have.
So what are you hoping your work will do for you?
In her best-selling book GRIT, Angela Duckworthtalks about different ways of looking at your work:
A job (I view my job as a necessity of life, much like breathing or sleeping)
A career (I view my job primarily as a stepping-stone to other jobs)
A calling (my work is one of the most important things in my life)
(Angela Duckworth, GRIT, p 150)
Duckworth also references Studs Terkel, a journalist who interviewed a wide range of professionals about their work. While only a small minority could say they viewed their work as a ‘calling’, he concluded that this wasn’t for want of trying. All of us are seeking:
“ daily meaning as well as daily bread… for a sort of life rather than a Monday through Friday sort of dying.”
— STUDS TERKEL
That slow death may sound dramatic, but I know there are many people in work right now who would recognise ‘a Monday through Friday sort of dying.’ I hope that isn’t you but if it is, don’t give up. When you know how to find a job you love, a career you love, you’ll be able to see the route to get there a lot more clearly.
I have experienced this state myself and have had to uproot myself from security, stability, regularity and safety from a couple of roles during my career. Why? Because they were slowly sucking the life out of me.
In each case I knew I had to face the upheaval of a career change if I was going wake up, be true to myself and express what really mattered to me. When I knew my values and had done the work to bring my purpose, strengths and deepest interests to light, I was then in the energising and motivated space to create something more fulfilling!
One of the first steps to finding the work you would love, is understanding your values. This might sound obscure, but it’s actually the cornerstone of why some people absolutely adore their work - it aligns with their values. If you’d like to explore your values, take a look at What Career Change is Right For Me? and these Freestyle Values Discovery ideas.
If you’d like to dig deeper into your strengths, doing what you love, and your purpose, read about the Freestyle Career Change Programmehere.
2. Seeing only what’s in plain sight
The second reason why looking for a job is a bad bet when you’re actually seeking fulfillment, is that you’ll only find what’s being advertised. I know that’s stating the obvious, but do you know that many wonderful jobs never reach a jobs board, recruitment agency or a company web site?
Welcome to ‘the hidden jobs market.’
In the hidden job market, recruiters approach their contacts, discuss an upcoming position with people from their own network and known professionals in that space. It’s so much easier, cheaper and some would say offers the greatest chance of finding a great fit for the role, if the position can be filled from a known candidate before it’s even advertised.
How can you find a job you love when it may well never be advertised?
It’s all about creating connections and opening up this space to become the person who comes to mind when a new position needs filling. Some will call this networking. Career writer and author of How to Get a Job You Love, John Lees explains that the results of having a strong network include, ‘your name comes up when you’re not in the room.’ And for this, you have to be known and very visible.
This might include building a great group of connections. Try:
• platforms like LinkedIn (please feel welcome to connect!)
• joining local and (inter)national professional organisations
• offering advice or information in online groups
• talking to people about your work at events (not just networking events)
• attending relevant conferences.
All of these will bring you into contact with people who might just be the best contact you’ll ever make. I know many people find the idea of ‘putting themselves out there’ a little scary, but remember; people recruit people. Chatting to others, in person or online, is the easiest way to become a real connection, not just a name on a website.
At least one of my own career changes was the result of a chance conversation with a fellow delegate in a conference lift. It happens!
In career theory this is called ‘Planned Happenstance’ and involves preparing yourself to make the most of chance encounters.
I’d just completed training to become a career guidance practitioner and was attending a conference on this very subject when I stumbled across magic in the form of a new contact. This key person told me their university was just about to advertise a career service manager role and would I be interested in coming in ‘for a chat’?
Three weeks later, I was offered the job – which had never been advertised. I stayed in that role for four years and built a strong foundation for my subsequent career guidance work. Thank heavens I attended the conference on that particular day and started a conversation in a lift!
It looks like luck, but it was planned happenstance. I’d gone to an event that was relevant to my industry and that was filled with people also in my industry.
‘The harder I work, the luckier I get.’
(attributed to almost every famous person ever!)
Time for a chat?
But you can also be very much more strategic than this and set up what some people call ‘coffee chats’ or ‘informational interviews’ to learn more about specific careers you might be considering.
By having a conversation with someone already in that role, you can gather some really useful insights into current trends, industry challenges and what the daily work actually involves. At the same time, you are potentially creating a supportive relationship – and advocacy.
If you want to know how to find a job you love, talking to those already in roles you’re considering allows you invaluable insights. Using this, you can rule it out if it’s not what you thought or get insider advice on how to get into that role if it sounds perfect.
This tactic involves a bit of courage and some simple courtesies to ensure you don’t leave a bad impression – we all know how busy working life is so you won’t want to overstay your welcome. I’ve written a detailed guide to building connections and staying in touch with your contacts, which you can see here. If you follow the protocols and build a systematic strategy, you’re opening yourself up to both new knowledge and potential opportunities.
And the golden rule for these conversations? Don’t ask for a job!
I have two final questions for you:
1. Are you just looking for a job? Or are you really in search of a fulfilling career?
2. What can you do right now to start building a working life that’s true to who you are today?
If you’re committed to moving away from the ‘any old job will do’ mindset and into the ‘I want to love my job and pursue fulfillment’ mindset, I can help.
As a specialist career change coach, I work with people from all industries to guide them into careers that are aligned with what fulfills them.
Whether you want a complete career change, are returning to work after a break or simply feel lost and dissatisfied, get in touch today and let’s get you on the path to a meaningful work life!